Firstly, a huge thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 04/10/2022
Length: 453 pages
Genre: Horror | Psychological Horror | Thriller
CW: brief mention of sexual assault, brief homophobic language
From the bestselling author of Come with Me, four standalone horror novellas set in a shared universe!GoodReads
In The Skin of Her Teeth, a cursed novel drives people to their deaths.
A delivery job turns deadly in The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride.
In This Book Belongs to Olo, a lonely child has dangerous control over an usual pop-up book.
A choose-your-own adventure game spirals into an uncanny reality in The Story.
Whenever I hear that Malfi has a new book coming out I am always excited, they always sink their claws into me and I can never help myself but devour the entire book as soon as possible as I need to know what happens. The four novellas that make up Ghostwritten have the same level of tension, atmosphere, and impact as one of his novels.
Firstly, I loved that they all had a focus on how dangerous books can be. This also demonstrated how masterful Malfi is as a writer, as he takes a similar base concept for all of the novellas and yet they are all so completely different and unique that none of them felt repetitive in the slightest. I also really appreciated the little references to the novellas in the other novellas too. Although they were only ever really nods to other novellas in the collection, it was still incredibly satisfying to discover them and it really added another layer to the stories and the horror that encompasses them.
It’s difficult to have a favourite among them as they all had something special about them and different aspects that make them so enjoyable. However, the more I think about it, the more I begin to realise that there are two in particular out of the four that I just can’t stop thinking about even after finishing the book. Those two are the second half of the book: This Book Belongs to Olo and The Story. When it comes to The Story the build-up and the realisation were really well done and, the final line really packs a punch and I can understand why this is the last novella in the collection. I really liked the way this novella really delved into the psychological and even left the reader doubting what was fact and what was fiction.
This Book Belongs to Olo, on the other hand, felt like much more traditional horror for me. Whenever horror includes children, it immediately makes it even creepier for me. So, when the protagonist of this novella, Olo, is a strange child who likes to wear a clown mask I knew this would be the novella that would have me on edge the most… and I was right. As the third novella in the collection, you already have an inkling of what would be happening and, coupled with the behaviour of Olo, you can quickly see the direction that the novella will take. However, that didn’t lessen the impact of the novella at all. I found myself frequently looking up to check my doorway as I felt very uneasy, especially reading this before bed.
Whilst the first two novellas were slightly overshadowed by the last two, for me, they still set the tone for the collection. In fact, I’d even argue, without spoilers, that the revelations in The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride are crucial to developing the collection further, especially with This Book Belongs to Olo and The Story. Similarly, without giving spoilers, the ending of the first novella, The Skin of Her Teeth, was brilliant and so satisfying! I didn’t imagine that I would be smiling at the end of any of these, so that was also a surprise to me, but I just couldn’t help myself with that final line!
Overall, this collection, as with all of Malfi’s works, is a must-read for horror fans! These novellas are the perfect way to get in the mood for the spooky season and will haunt you as the nights get darker and longer.